A decision by the State Government to allow cemeteries to reuse grave sites has been rejected by Cessnock Council.
Changes introduced in June last year, under the Cemetery and Crematoria Regulation 2018, allows cemetery operators to introduce a system whereby graves can be rented for a period of 25 years to 99 years for people who cannot afford a permanent site.
Under the changes, if a relative of the deceased person was unable to continue paying the fees, there is a possibility that the headstone and human remains could be removed from the site. The plot can then be put up for sale.
The changes also drew widespread criticism from community members, Church groups and the NSW Aboriginal Council when introduced.
At its last meeting for 2018, Cessnock council decided that the renewable internment rights would not be offered at the ten cemeteries under council control.
Mayor Bob Pynsent said he was pleased with council’s decision, adding that such a plan would never be an option in the Cessnock LGA.
“Our community is home to many families who have been here for generations” Cr Pynsent said.
“Everyone deserves a place to be laid to rest and a place for their loved ones to visit them.
Cr Pynsent added: “one of the most concerning aspects of the changes is that it may create two classes of burial rights in NSW that would see some unable to afford a plot for more than 25 years.”
One of the most concerning aspects of the changes is that it may create two classes of burial rights in NSW that would see some unable to afford a plot for more than 25 years.Cessnock Mayor Bob Pynsent
Cessnock Council has resolved to write to the NSW Government advising that it strongly opposes the reuse of burial plots.
It is also urging the state government to look for alternative solutions.
Speaking on the issue in November last year, Member for Wallsend Sonia Hornery also blasted the changes.
“This Government has proved yet again that everything has a price, but nothing has value,” she said.
“Perpetual monuments for those who can afford it, and those who can’t afford it will be forced to see their loved one dug up,”